The First Lutheran Church in Brainerd, Minn., recently hosted the Community Mental Health Resource Fair on Oct. 29, where participants learned how to better understand and deal with mental health problems.
Help for People with Mental Health Issues
According to a report by Brainerd Dispatch, the event started at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The church is at 424 S. Eighth St. in the city’s downtown area.
Karen Johnson, who works for the event sponsor Crow Wing Energized, explained the importance of the one-day activity.
“It will be a good opportunity for people to come out, free of charge, and learn more about what those programs are, locally,” the Brainerd Dispatch quoted her saying.
Johnson added that the fair was the first time they held it.
“The overall goal is to offer these programs on a regular basis in our community. We really wanted to reach out to people and find out what their needs are that we may not be aware of, so that’s kind of what spurred this idea,” she explained.
Johnson likewise said the Community Mental Health Resource Fair sought to connect with people who directly suffer from mental health issues but do not have any say on policies and programs addressing such.
“You will also have an opportunity to attend breakout sessions to share your insight for the next step in this project: building a community resilience plan,” Johnson told participants.
She added that they plan to train people to serve as added ambassadors for the program since they currently rely heavily on volunteers.
“We really do need more ambassadors to do that, so we can reach more people. Hopefully, they’re going to want to bring us back to the places where they work, where they worship … so that we can also go out into the community and do presentations,” she explained.
The report said participants had the chance to listen to any of the different presentations on mental health.
The presentations included the different lethal means of people committing suicide, suicide prevention, adverse childhood experiences, and shifting the discussion on suicide and mental health. Attendees also listened to the Make It OK campaign, a community program seeking to reduce mental illness stigma.
The report said organizers served light meals to participants.
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Need for Discussion on Mental Well-Being
In a separate article published by Brainerd Dispatch, Johnson disclosed that the Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by Essentia Health in the spring of 2022 identified mental well-being as among community members’ primary concerns.
“When people were asked to rate the number of days they experienced ‘good mental health,’ it was noted people were experiencing fewer ‘good’ mental health days in the month compared to the survey conducted in 2018,” Johnson wrote.
She added that when they compared 2018 with the 2014 data, they discovered that they had achieved some improvements on the matter.
Johnson added that they could attribute such development to different factors, including efforts like the Make It OK campaign.
She further said the willingness of schools, workplaces, and faith communities to discuss mental health concerns is another factor in the improvement.
Johnson likewise mentioned the recognition of the role played by connectedness among organizations and community members in Brainerd as another reason mental well-being improved.
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